By Lance J. Robinson, Owner and Lead Attorney at The Law Office of Lance J. Robinson
Getting arrested for a DUI or DWI can be a scary, stressful experience. In New Orleans and throughout Louisiana, even your first DUI could mean losing your license, paying expensive fines, and facing other penalties. As a New Orleans DUI attorney with over 22 years of experience, I have defended hundreds of clients against DUIs and DWIs. Prepare yourself today with my top 4 tips for facing DUI charges in New Orleans and the surrounding area.
1. Cooperate with the police officer.
If you believe you did nothing wrong, your first instinct may be to argue with the police officer who pulled you over. Unfortunately, this can do more harm than good. My first tip is to remain calm and polite. Cooperate with the police officer if they ask for your name, ask to see your license and registration, ask you to step out of your vehicle, or ask you to take a breathalyzer test. But do not offer more information than is necessary, and leave the arguing to your New Orleans DUI attorney.
If a police officer tells you to take a breathalyzer test and you refuse, your driver’s license will be suspended. This is why I recommend you take the test if you hope to keep your license. In Louisiana, the penalties you face for a DUI can increase based on your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and other factors:
- If you have a BAC of .08 or higher, you can be charged with a DWI.
- If you have a BAC of .15 or higher, you can receive harsher penalties, including an extra 48 hours of jail time.
- If you have a BAC of .20 or higher, you can receive even harsher penalties, including an extra 48 hours of jail time, a fine of $750–$1,000, and an ignition interlock device (which acts as a breathalyzer test you must pass in order to start your car) in your car for two years.
A high BAC, previous DUIs or DWIs, and drunken or belligerent behavior can all exacerbate your situation. You can’t change your BAC or criminal record when you get pulled over, but you can choose to behave in a calm, cooperative, and collected manner.
2. Hire a New Orleans DUI attorney as soon as possible.
If the police officer does decide to arrest you, the next step you should take is to hire an experienced New Orleans DUI attorney. Because of its representation in movies, music, and pop culture, a DUI is a seriously underestimated charge. Many people face DUI or DWI charges without knowing what they’re up against, especially in New Orleans.
It’s easy to assume the intoxication laws are much more relaxed in a city where drive-thru daiquiris are commonplace and you can drink in the streets, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The laws here are as strict as anywhere else, and depending on the circumstances, you risk everything from losing your license to paying up to $1,000 in fines or spending up to half a year in prison.
With high stakes and a complex legal system at play, it is not advisable for you to try to handle a DUI or DWI charge yourself. Instead, find a local lawyer who is familiar with the parish criminal court system and Louisiana laws regarding DUIs and DWIs. My law office has avoided jail time for hundreds of clients facing DUI or DWI charges, and I have gotten many first-time DUI/DWI charges dismissed through diversion programs.
3. Schedule your ALR to keep your license.
Most people who are charged with a DUI or DWI don’t realize their license could be suspended before they’re found innocent or guilty—or that it will happen automatically if they don’t take action. Under Louisiana law, your driver’s license is automatically suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles 30 days after your arrest. That is, unless you request an Administrative License Review (ALR).
The ALR is an administrative hearing concerning your driver’s license. It occurs separately from your criminal court case. At your ALR, the DMV determines whether or not it will suspend your license. A qualified New Orleans DUI attorney can help you request an ALR and represent you at your DMV license hearing, giving you a better chance to keep your license.
4. Get your record expunged.
One of the final and most important steps to moving on from a DUI charge is to get the arrest or conviction expunged from your record. Even if your charges were dropped, they still stay on your record until they’re expunged. This means that employers, schools, landlords, and anyone else who may perform a basic background check on you could see that you were arrested for a DUI.
Check with your criminal defense lawyer to see if they can help you with an expungement. When I expunge an arrest or conviction for a client, I handle everything from start to finish, so the process can move smoothly and quickly. Not only do I file the paperwork in person as soon as possible, but I also represent my clients in court to give them the best chance possible at receiving an expungement.
Hire a New Orleans DUI Attorney Today
The Law Office of Lance J. Robinson is ready to handle your DUI or DWI charges and fight for your rights today. I am available 24/7 to speak to clients, so give me a call now at (504) 465-0101, text me at (504) 427-6210, or contact me online for a free consultation to learn how I can help you.